Reinventing Myself

Strokes are devastating because they take so many things from us, but they do not have to rob us of our essence.



Denice DeAntonio, Survivor - Fleetwood, Pennsylvania

My life used to be normal, rather uneventful. I had a fulfilling career and was busy, doing things I enjoyed — shopping, reading, going to the bookstore and being with my family. Then I had a hemorrhagic stroke, and things changed drastically.

Initially I did not understand what had happened nor the physical toll of the stroke. The left side of my body was affected. I had to learn to walk, read, use the stairs and perform some daily activities such as writing a check. It was hard work, but after five months in a rehabilitation hospital, I was ready to come home.

I could not do all I did before. Simple tasks were challenging and required more energy. I needed my children to help me do many things. I was not able to return to my job, and I had to surrender my driver’s license.

A lot of my identity came from the different roles I played. I was a nurse, a high school teacher, mother and wife. I attended work-related conferences and drove to wherever I needed to be. I was independent.

Strokes are devastating because they take so many things from us, but they do not have to rob us of our essence.

After my stroke I experienced a huge loss of independence, and it saddened me. I am still sad about the losses, but I am trying to rejoice in the gains. I survived a stroke, not everyone does. I am able to take care of myself, care for my home and take daily walks. I am still teaching by sharing my story. I am learning that who I am is not about the career I have, the degrees I hold or how many tasks I can manage at one time.

Reinventing myself means looking inside, reevaluating what is important and not letting the stroke define me. Though our family has had to adjust, I am still able to be a mother, wife, sister, aunt and daughter — all roles more precious to me now that I am a stroke survivor. I feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz — the things I was searching for were right in front of me all the time. Who I am does not exist in the external things, but inside of me — the type of person I am, how I use this experience to help others.

It is not easy forging a new path, but I am slowly learning to accept these new challenges. Strokes are devastating because they take so many things from us, but they do not have to rob us of our essence. I am finding new ways to share my talents and passions with others. This is just as challenging as any therapy program. If I do not continue searching for ways to use this experience for something positive, if I allow the stroke to rob me of the essence of who I am, then I will always be a stroke patient, not a stroke survivor.

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Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-part series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Departments

Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

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Life At The Curb

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Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!